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To the editor,
A top responsibility for legislators is to be good stewards of tax dollars. That is why I cannot ignore question marks regarding what state employee contracts ultimately will cost taxpayers.
I am a member of the Subcommittee on Employee Relations, which has declined to approve new contracts for the state’s two largest employee unions.
Most of the provisions that have been negotiated are palatable. Despite what is being reported, there are step salary increases on top of the across-the-board increases of 2 and 2.25 percent that can lead to some employees receiving 10-percent salary increases over the contract.
The deal-breaker for me is this: The last time these state employee contracts were negotiated, the final cost exceeded projections by $100 million. This time, Minnesota Management and Budget is unable or unwilling to confirm the new proposal fits within the confines of the funding that has been appropriated for these contracts. MMB has failed to adequately demonstrate that each agency can absorb these additional costs without disrupting all services and programs.
MMB says it thinks the contracts will fit the budget, but we told them they need to show us that. They haven’t proven it with evidence yet. Our hope is that MMB will submit an agreement with the numbers that show it fits within the confines of the budget and earns the support of the subcommittee’s members.
Some people may try to make this a political issue and that is too bad. The bottom line is I cannot, in good conscience with the taxpayers, support a contract when the state officials who negotiated it will not confirm the numbers work.
Rep. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville
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